The aim of hockey is for one team to score more goals than the other team by hitting the puck with hockey sticks, getting past the goal tender and into the goal net. Like most things hockey, there are more than the basics to know and understand about scoring a goal.



The primary way to score a goal is for a skater to hit the puck with the hockey stick so the puck gets past the goalkeeper. Despite the fact that there is a net attached to the metal frame of the goal, it is not necessary for the puck to actually touch the net. The referee needs to see that the puck has fully crossed the goal line both under the crossbar and between the two goal posts for the goal to be awarded. In addition, the player must not have hit the puck with the stick when the stick is higher than the crossbar. The puck will not remain on the floor and is often flying through the air.



The puck is also allowed to come off the skate of a skater or the goalkeper – this is a major difference between field/grass hockey and ice & inline hockey. Provided that the player scoring the goal does not deliberately kick the puck into the net – you may hear the term “distinctive kicking motion” used, the puck is allowed to deflect off skates. The puck can also rebound off a player or an on-ice official into the goal.




Goals & Assists

When a goal is scored, the referee will nominate the goal scorer and advise the scorekeeper (located off the floor) of the goal scorer’s jersey number. Apart from the goal scorer, they also nominate the last player who receive a point called an assist. An assist does not go onto the scoreboard however it is a guide to how the goal was scored and recognises the player who helped score the goal. There is only one assist awarded in inline hockey compared to two in ice hockey.





Example: Player A passes the puck to Player B who scores. Player B is the goal scorer & Player A is credited with the  assist. Announced as “Goal scored by Player B assisted by Player A.”



Example: Player A passes the puck to no one and scores all by themselves. Player A is the goal scorer. There are no assists – also known as an unassisted goal. Announced as “Goal scored by Player A, unassisted.”


Types Of Goals – Power Play/Short Handed Goals

As seen in the Penalties section, there are times where teams do not have equal numbers of players on the floor. There are three types of goals which are statistically important and will show where teams can improve. These statistics will show if the team is taking advantage of being on the powerplay or if they are scoring despite the other team having a powerplay.



  • Even Strength Goals – Goal scored when there are the same amount of skaters on the floor for both teams;
  • Power Play Goal (PPG) – Goal scored when the scoring team (on the power play) has more skaters on the floor than the opposition;
  • Short Handed Goal (SHG) – Goal scored when the scoring team has less skaters on the floor (referred to as being on the penalty kill) than the opposition.




Graphic – Team Black has 4 skaters while Team Blue has 3 skaters due to a penalty against Team Blue. Team Black is on the Power Play (PP) while Team Blue is on the Penalty Kill (PK). Actual positions may change depending to tactics, game situation and the penalised player’s position.



Types Of Goals – Empty Net


Another type of goal which is usually seen towards the end of a game is an Empty Net goal (EN). This is a goal scored against a team when the team does not have their goalkeeper on the floor. This is usually the case towards the end of a game where the coach removes the goalkeeper from the game to allow a skater to take their place. An empty net goal could be the result in this situation as the priority of the team with the empty net is attacking the opposition goal rather than defending their own goal.




Graphic – Team Black has 5 skaters with no goal tender. Extra skater shown with an X. Actual positions may change depending to tactics, game situation and the positioning. Team Blue not shown however the Team Blue Goal Tender would be present.



Types Of Goals – Other


If a skater or a goal tender hits or deflects the puck into their own net, the goal is allowed and the last person on the scoring team to touch the puck is credited with the goal.



The skater who scored the goal that is the difference between winning and losing is said to have scored the Game Winning Goal (GWG), even if there is a difference of more than one goal in the final score at the end of the game. Example – Team A wins a game 6-4. The player from Team A who scored the team’s 5th goal is credited with the Game Winning Goal.



The goalkeeper who was on the floor at the time of the Game Winning Goal is credited with the win (W) for their statistics and their team. The other team’s goal tender is credited with the loss (L) for their statistics. In the event of a goal tender change, it is the goalkeeper who was on the floor at the time of the Game Winning Goal that is credited for the win or the loss.



How Was The Goal Scored?


If you are watching a game with commentary, you will often hear a description about how the goal was scored in a way that does not make sense to the new hockey fan. These include:


  • 5 Hole – Between the goal tender’s legs. Depending on the detail, there are at least 5 particular spaces (called holes) where a player could shoot the puck past the goalkeeper. Some diagrams show up to 10 holes. Mostly, only the 5 Hole will be mentioned. Skaters love to score 5 Hole against a goalkeeper while goalkeepers hate being scored that way. The internet seems to agree on the location of the 5 hole but not on the location of holes 1 – 4.



Graphic – Illustration of various scoring zones on a goal tender.



  • Top Shelf, Top Cheddar, Top Cheese – Puck enters the net near the top of the goal posts or crossbar. Using the goalkeeper hole diagram in the previous example, these are holes 1 & 3.
  • Bar Down – A shot (usually from distance) which hits the crossbar and goes into the net. Skaters love scoring Bar Down, especially accompanied by the loud noise when the puck hits the crossbar. Also can also be called scoring Top Shelf etc.
  • Sniped – A shot from a distance which beats the goalkeeper. Where the puck ends up does not matter in this example.
  • Tipped In or Redirected – Often, there is an attacking player or players in front of the goalkeeper. This is referred as “screening the goalie”. There is two reasons to screen the goalie. Blocking the goalie’s view allows players to score easier because they can not see the puck. Tipping in or redirecting the puck by a player in front of the goalie can change the direction of the puck, beating the goalie.
  • Rebound – A player shoots the puck into the goalkeeeper, usually their pads. A player in front of the goal can take advantage of the rebounding puck and make another attempt to shoot the puck and score.
  • Breakaway – An attacking player gets around the defending players near centre ice and has the chance to shoot the puck at the goal without having other defending players around them. Can the goalkeeper stop the puck or will the attacking player score? Where will the shooter shoot?
  • Garbage Goal – A goal where the attacking players have to work really hard to score while the defenders are working really hard to keep the puck out of the net. Some teams are told to try to score garbage goals if more spectacular scoring attempts are not working. Often used to attempt to score on a goal tender who is easily stopping the puck. 



Page last updated 11 August 2017